The joys of having tenants

One of our regular readers wrote to ask:

Do you have any advice (guidelines) for me when you have 2 tenants that are always complaining on each other?  The biggest problem I have is that it is usually hear-say with no supporting proof.  How do I handle?  How do I get this to stop?

Ahhh, feuding tenants.


If you feel like it, watch a couple episodes of “Super Nanny” to bone up on your parenting skills.  Sometimes keeping tenants is like having two-year-olds.  Don’t you wish you could have a “time out?”

Try to keep it simple, and try to stay out of it.  You are not a referee.

  1. Tell your tenants that their first recourse if there is a disturbance that is serious is to call 9-1-1.  The police should break up a loud party, a domestic argument, super-loud stereo blasting.
  2. Tell the tenants that they need to work it out amongst themselves.  Tell them you are not their parent.  And tell them to get it straightened out soon before you start receiving complaints from other tenants.
  3. Finally if the two steps above don’t work, tell the tenants that if the complaint is serious, to write you a letter.  With specific details.  The day, the date, the time, and a very accurate description of what the other tenant did to disturb them.    With a detailed written complaint, you can issue a “10 Day Notice.”  You will write a “10-Day Notice” and deliver it to the offending tenant.

A “10-Day Notice” is a scary looking notification that basically tells the offending tenant that they have 10 days to “knock it off.”  If there is another disturbance within the 10 day time period from when you give the 10-day notice, then you can cancel their lease and tell them to move at the end of the month.  But if the offending tenant doesn’t cause any disturbance in the 10 day period, then the notice expires.  And then you start all over again.

The “10 Day Notice” is a specific form. (Email me if you need your own copy of a 5-day/10-day notice.) Some highlights on the form for you to pay attention to:

  • you will check box #2,
  • date it approximately midway down
  • Sign where it says “Lessor.”

On the “Proof of Service section:

  • Fill in your name (or the name of the person you hire to deliver the notice)
  • Date the next line
  • Check the box for “By delivering a true copy…”
  • And EVERY TIME you visit the property to try to give this “10 Day”, you will write in the date and time under “Attempts at Service” including the time you actually deliver the notice.
  • Sign the blank line at the bottom.

You will bring TWO COPIES to the building each time.  1 copy in case the tenant is home.  Leave 1 copy with the tenant.  Take one copy with you.  They need to be the same. 

And if it turns out you will want to terminate one of the leases, you will need your copy to bring to court and show the judge to prove that you gave the notice to the tenants.